More pet owners are turning to cannabis treats as a way to alleviate their animals’ health issues, say veterinarians, who caution that cannabis can be toxic for pets.
Is it okay to get your dog high? No, but many pet owners are hoping to cure them of various ills by feeding them CBD, or cannabidiol, one of the chemical compounds found in marijuana which its supporters say can help treat a range of health issues from anxiety and depression to pain management and even cancer —in humans and other animals.
With the legalization of marijuana both for medical and recreational use across many states in the US and, coming soon, all of Canada, CBD oils, creams and capsules are receiving more attention, although the scientific research on their effectiveness is still wanting. CBD, which unlike the other more well-known pot compound THC, won’t get you high, has been tested in a handful of studies, some of which have shown it to be helpful in reducing symptoms of childhood epilepsy and schizophrenia and alleviating social anxiety.
The therapeutic use of CBD has now spilled over into the world of pets, with a number of companies offering animal treats infused with the chemical. Green Flower Botanicals of Valrico, Florida, has a meat-protein- based treat called Uncle Jesse’s Hemp Bones that is infused with CBD hemp oil and says that it can be good for your dog’s stress, anxiety and depression.
“Many of our customers were already using CBD oil for their pups”, said Scarborough (Uncle Jesse) of Green Flower Botanicals. “About a year ago, we started having more and more people asking for dog treats. We (the partners) had already been making treats for our own pups, so it was a natural progression for us as a company.”
Pacifico Life in Hamilton and Toronto sells hemp-derived doggy treats in bacon and seafood flavours. Owner Tamara Hirsh says that for the time being, customers need to be registered to receive medical marijuana from a licensed producer before they can buy the treats, or present medical documentation on their animal’s illness. “[They’re] quite popular,” said Hirsh to Vice.
“Just like on a daily basis for dogs with anxiety or mobility issues like arthritis, especially aging dogs. It helps with a wide gamut of things, much like it does in people.”
Speaking to Global News, head of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Kathleen Norman, said that she and her colleagues “strongly advise against” giving CBD-laced products to pets. “Even if the cannabis does not have THC, we still do not know how safe it is,” Norman said. “There is no scientific evidence that shows it [CBD] is safe for pets.”
Norman says that she’s had pet owners ask her to prescribe medical marijuana for their animals but she declines, saying that even once marijuana is legalized for humans, she’d like to see research done on animals.
“People want their pets to feel better. I get it,” she said. “If it does become legal in Canada, we should do more research and more studies on its safety.”